Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Our choices in Puyallup council, school board races

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on July 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm with 4 Comments »
July 27, 2011 4:06 pm

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The Puyallup City Council’s personality-driven feuds could cool considerably with the introduction of several new faces this fall.

The selection of a new city manager last year has already done much to de-escalate the tensions among council members. But the factions – or at least a public perception of them – seem destined to endure as long as the nameplates on the council dais remain the same.

That is guaranteed to change come January, when the council gets at least three and possibly four new members, thanks in part to the city’s new term limits.

The wild card is Nicole Martineau, who chose to run for an at-large seat rather than defend the District 1 position the council appointed her to last year.
She’s facing heavy opposition from three other candidates, but none is better than Steve Vermillion.

A Puyallup businessman and decorated retired Army officer, Vermillion crossed party lines last year to endorse Democrat Dawn Morrell for Legislature after his own Republican bid failed in the primary.

Puyallup needs more of that kind of independent streak. Vermillion says he finds himself aligned with Councilmen John Knutsen and Rick Hansen on some issues, but there is little doubt he would be his own man on the council.

Martineau, a substitute teaching assistant for the Puyallup School District, has drawn flak for some of her decisions, but she offers reasoned and persuasive arguments in support of her votes. If elected, she also would be the only remaining woman on the council.

If voters are generally happy with the direction of the city, they should vote for Martineau. If they, like Vermillion, think the city has done a poor job managing its finances, they should pick him.

In the District 1 race, one candidate is heads above the rest: John Hopkins, a semi-retired manager of commercial rental properties and former electrician and physics teacher. He is a member of the Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission and Puyallup Main Street board.

Hopkins is Hansen’s business partner on some downtown properties, but doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with his fellow businessman.

His common-sense take on council affairs is reflected in his view of a recent controversy over the starting time of council meetings. “It annoys me that they have spent so much time talking about it,” he says, offering that the council should compromise by scheduling executive sessions at the beginning so that latecomers don’t miss the public discussion.

In addition to selecting council members, voters also will pick a new school board member this fall. They should beware of wasting their votes. Dane Looker, a former NFL player, is on the ballot but has pulled out of the race for school board to focus on a 2012 run for Legislature.

Even before Looker withdrew, the top candidate was Therese Ngo Pasquier, a woman with an obvious passion for education and one of the strongest school board candidates we’ve interviewed.

She is development director for the Tacoma Philharmonic and has served on several community boards, including the Emergency Food Network and Good Samaritan Hospital.

She has also been heavily involved in the school district, working on a parent involvement task force and secondary grading practices committee.

Pasquier is likely to appeal to both supporters and detractors of Superintendent Tony Apostle, whom she gives a B for strategic thinking but a D for communication. She would like to see Apostle make more use of social media to reach out to the community.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. TNT, you’re dead on about Vermillion. He is well educated and has a vast array of life expereiences. Reading his website at you get a sense that the man will be the most qualified the council has ever had. The fact he crossed party lines last year to support the candidate he felt was most qualified may anger some radicals, but indicates he is capable of rising above the fray and partisan politics to truly do what’s right for his community. He’s bigger that partisan politics. Steve, I look forward to seeing you on my Magnavox.

  2. CrazyJim says:

    Nicole Martineau should have never been appointed in the first place.

  3. Martineau dumped her district 1 constituency as soon as she got what she wanted, a seat on the council. Signs of her abandonment of district 1 began showing immediately. Courting the Turner led contingent on the council spelled out abandonment of any honest representation of district 1 needs. She has proven that she is a willing soldier when it comes to doing the dirty work with her vote by supporting Mayor Turner’s agenda. In return she gets a new social circle and approval from the leadership on the council.

  4. In a recent Letter to the Editor, (8-5-09) the author made reference to the fact that the Puyallup City Council has been, “plagued by childish, vengeful, petty behavior for a long time,” And questioned Steve Vermillion’s character.

    I couldn’t agree more.
    I recently read a blog comment by Steve Vermillion where he was name calling, which I consider petty behavior.

    He referred to a woman who had arrived to assist and observe a river clean up project, an “Earth Muffin”. Labeling and judging others in such a way is derogatory and unproductive. A “muffin” is an improper word to utilize in which to describe a woman. The slang for it is inappropriate to say the least. And obviously she was environmentally friendly.

    I am concerned about the manner in which Vermillion will conduct himself if elected onto the Puyallup City Council, if this is how he conducts himself while under the election microscope.

    I feel a positive force on the council has been Nicole Martineau, who is running for the Puyallup At-Large Council seat. She has served on the council since her appointment to a seat two years ago. She has served the city of Puyallup in a conscientious, respectful and professional manner and of course, all without name calling.

    Martineau has proven that she is a valuable asset to the Puyallup City Council. Though experienced, Martineau brings fresh perspective to Puyallup and is the stable representation that families and the public need.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0